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Interview your vet. Veterinarians are as varied as all humankind. Find out who you are dealing with today! This medically educated human being is evaluating your precious companion and you are entitled to the best advice they can give. Remember, the vet does not make your animal get better, the vital force and innate healing ability of the incredible body is responsible. You are paying for advice and medications that have the potential to nudge the body toward healing, or to cause a negative effect.

1) What kind of animals do you have? Everyone likes others who care about them! Try to find a common bond with your vet. Are they a cat person or a dog person? Where did they attend veterinary college? If they do not have any pets or express a dislike of animals, you might run the other way!

2) How is my pet’s weight? Sometimes vets neglect to cover nutrition fully and give the owner specific information. Unfortunately, nobody can tell you how many cups of food to give, because sizes and metabolic rated vary so much among animals. “Look down on your pet” that is, look from above and see if there is a waistline between the rib cage and the hips. Loss of waist line, usually means weight creeping up! Ask specifically what type of food is recommended, where to find it, recipes for home-made diets, whether cooked or raw. Ask if any supplements would help, such as coenzyme Q-10 for a dog with heart problems, or probiotics for cats with kidney failure.

3) What do you feed your animals? How much does your vet walk the talk? If a homemade diet for a large breed dog is recommended, ask your vet if they have cooked for their dog and ask where to find the ingredients for the diet. For example, exactly where can you buy bone meal in my town?

4) What vaccines do you consider to be “core vaccines” (strongly recommended) and which are optional? Consider your pet’s risk of contracting this disease and compare this with the possible risk or side effect of the vaccine being recommended.

5) What treatment plan would you pursue for your pet if he or she was given this particular diagnosis?

6) What is the minimal vaccination schedule recommended for an animal in my situation?

7) Do you know any specialists who could give me a second opinion on this? Such as veterinarians certified in acupuncture, homeopathy or chiropractic care?

8) How do I know if my animal is in pain?

9) Would you write down some of the information you just told me? Sometimes we go on about subjects too quickly, assuming a client will remember everything. Sometimes we use words that are not clear in meaning. Here are two examples, Cage Rest – One owner thought it meant rest in the cage, but she was doing walking exercises with her dog right after spinal surgery. The doctor meant enforced rest in a cage so as to minimize any movement at all after surgery. Leash Walks only means put the pet on a leash to go out to the bathroom, only. One could take this to mean walking is ok as long as the pet is kept on a leash!

10) What vet would you choose to care for your animals if you were out of town and an emergency arose?

My clients seek honesty, empathy, knowledge, and action. These questions may help you to find out much more about the person who cares for your pet’s health!


July 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is carried by ticks like these to humans and animals. The VA department of health has advised that all health professionals be on the lookout for this rapidly increasing condition.
In my practice, I have found a high incidence of Lyme disease in dogs. The resistance of parasites to the insecticidal drugs and the warmer weather has contributed to increasing tick populations. A tick must be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease.
Lyme disease in other species remains controversial but my opinion is that once a reliable test is developed, it will be found at high levels in tick infested animals. The symptoms are so varied that there is not one classic syndrome to recognize.
Some symptoms include intermittent fever, lameness, fibromyalgia, inflammation of the eyes, swollen lymph nodes and kidney failure.
Control of Lyme disease begins with control of ticks. Application of natural tick repellant sprays such as Vetri-Repel ® before going for walks in the woods will help. I advise Advantix® for dogs and Revolution for cats during the tick season for high risk cases. I don’t like the idea of systemic chemical repellants, but I have seen tick borne infections kill animals. Untreated dogs are more likely to bring ticks in the home to their owners. Cats are more fastidious and seem to rarely get problems with ticks. Horses get ticks in their manes and tails, commonly. Applying a repellant such as a natural fly spray to the legs and mane will help reduce tick problems. Keeping pastures mowed will also be very helpful.
Treatment of Lyme disease requires at least a month of antibiotic therapy. As with humans, the longer the duration of infection, the more difficult it is to resolve. Herbal support of the immune system and treatment of symptoms is very helpful in addition to antibiotics. Once Lyme disease has progressed to kidney failure, treatment may be futile.
Treatment of asymptomatic dogs that test positive is very controversial. Most vets I know, tend to err on the side of caution. A positive antibody titer indicates tick control needs attention for sure. Adding a urinalysis to check for protein in the urine will add urgency to treatment of these outwardly asymptomatic animals. If treated early, a full recovery can be expected. If treated late, a chronic condition may set in.
Vaccination is routine in many veterinary settings. Vaccination is done to prevent infection before exposure and after treatment to prevent reinfection. There is no vaccine without risk and the Lyme vaccine has been implicated in more adverse reactions than others. In addition, no vaccine is 100% effective and complacency on tick control would be inadvisable. Lyme vaccines have been available for 20 years and have been improved as the years go by. As with everything in medicine, you have to weigh the risk with the benefit, all the while looking at your patient’s vital force and ability to respond to a vaccine.
With Lyme disease and its more severe cousin, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, the number one defense is control of the vector, the tick! Secondly, a strong immune system, supported by good nutrition and environment, will go far in preventing any disease in yourself and your animals!

June 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Heroes for Heroes

My first real knowledge of service dogs was years ago when I read The Leading Lady: Dinah’s Story by Betty White. What a revelation that was! Today, guide dogs and service dogs have expanded their reach and ability to help so many people in their lives.
My next exposure was by providing veterinary care to a couple of puppy raising families locally. I learned what a task it is to prepare a dog for this type of career! I was invited to Graduation ceremonies at our local service dog school, Saint Francis of Assisi, in Roanoke. There I met recipients of these wonderful dogs and heard their stories first hand. There was hardly a dry eye on the crowd that day except for the dogs who were wondering what the big deal was!
These specially trained dogs assist disabled people in many ways. They help the physically disabled with tasks and provide safety and constant companionship. They do incredible things for children with mental disabilities, by calming with their watchful presence and providing a connection to the outside world that can be found nowhere else. One of the most interesting to me was a fact I heard repeatedly, that the isolation of being bound to a wheelchair is broken by having a dog. People are hesitant to approach or strike up a conversation with someone in a chair, but if a dog is present, their world instantly changes.
I want to share a recent development for service dogs and that is with veterans programs. Veterans returning from war sometimes need physical assistance, but more than anything, the calm constant love of this dog can provide emotional support. Brain injury is much in the news lately, from war and from sports injuries. Service dogs can help with post traumatic stress syndrome, seizure disorders, and depression. Exercise is a real treatment for depression and a dog provides the motivation and reason for getting out and moving. Dogs can detect seizures and erratic behavior before the patient even knows it’s coming. Don’t we witness this ability in our own households?
It is my hope that we will soon be seeing service dogs everywhere they can help, so don’t be surprised to see a dog politely waiting under a table in a restaurant with someone you’d never guess needed a service dog! These dogs are allowed by law to go everywhere their owner goes. And remember to ask before petting a dog that is working. You just may make a new friend in the process!
I just want to say a big thank you to all the puppy raisers, to the dedicated organizations who train dogs to be good citizens, and to our veterans for their service to our country.
The cost of raising a service dog ranges from $10-60,000 so let’s all do our best to support these organizations in any way we can!

May 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feline Bartonellosis

If you love cats, here’s a disease you should know about! Feline Bartonellosis is surprisingly common in cats, at the rate of about 35%.  This is the causative agent of Cat Scratch Fever which is transmitted to people and can be a very serious infection. Since I have been educating my clients about this disease, I have met more than a few clients who have described the devastating effects if this illness on their own health. These include seizure disorders, visual disturbances, chronic fatigue, and high fevers.

Since my area of expertise is animals, let me briefly explain. Outwardly healthy animals can carry the bacteria,  Bartonella henselae, and transmit it to other cats or the people they live with.  Some cats with long term illnesses have been cured with treatment for Bartonella. Yes, that is the good news! It is treatable!

Signs in cats range from none to severe weight loss, mouth problems, respiratory problems, skin problems, and chronic diarrhea.  The carrier cat can be a danger to its owner especially if the person in direct contact is immune compromised, having chemotherapy, or is a small child.

The diagnostic test is a simple blood test taking 3 drops of blood from the ear or the forearm. The results come back in a week. The treatment is an oral antibiotic given daily for 3 weeks. A follow up test is recommended in 6 months.

Protect yourself and your cats by testing for Bartonella! I recommend testing every new kitten entering a household for Bartonella, Feline leukemia, and FIV. This combination test will allow early detection and treatment and prevent spread of the disease. I would love for you to go to  www.natvetlabs.org for further information on this subject.

April 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renavast™ for Kidney Disease

There have been few additions to treatment of chronic renal failure in cats in the past 15 years. Until now! Renavast™ is a new product available for clinical trials that appears to be safe and effective.

A very simplified explanation helps my clients understand that our veterinary term “kidney failure” or “renal failure” has nothing to do with failure to produce urine. In fact, renal disease occurs when the kidney is no longer able to conserve the good stuff and eliminate the bad. There is a reversal where the good stuff is lost and the bad continues to circulate, making the patient nauseous and toxic.

I will summarize the current treatment options for cats in chronic renal failure:

  • Dietary adjustment: Mostly, renal patients are very picky  because their sense of taste and smell is altered and it is a challenge to get them to eat enough of anything. The diet argument has gone full circle and it now appears that a quality moderate protein wet food is ideal. The more fluid intake, the better!
  • Subcutaneous fluids:  There is no doubt that home fluid therapy is life-saving for cats with renal disease. Owners can learn to do this procedure at home. Every 2nd or 3rd day fluid therapy will improve appetite and well-being by diluting the toxins that build up in the body.
  •  Azodyl®:  Azodyl® is a probiotic which can truly help these cats to feel better and it works by reducing urea production in the intestines. Urea is an inevitable breakdown product of protein metabolism. Reducing urea load will reduce urea toxin buildup in the blood.
  • Renavast™:  Renavast™ is NEW and is a combination of amino acids and peptides which can reduce damage to the kidney. It comes as a capsule but can be opened and sprinkled on food. It is very palatable for cats. I am participating in clinical trials to monitor and collect case reports of cats and dogs taking Renavast™ and am hopeful that it can add years to their lives.
  • Herbal medicines: I use nutritive herbal prescriptions that can increase blood flow to the kidneys and act as a tonic to help heal damage to the kidney and increase the strength and vitality of the patient.
  • Nutraceuticals: There are many herbs and vitamins that may be prescribed for specific conditions. Each case is a little different, based on laboratory findings and previous history.

For now, I just want to get the word out that there is a new option available to help this terribly common problem in the senior cat population. I hope you will consider it if you are dealing with renal disease in your cat.

March 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homeopathy and a Thirst for Knowledge

Monday night, I so enjoyed hearing Dr. Robin Murphy speak passionately about homeopathy. Here in the US, there is such an underutilization of this wonderful energetic healing practice. In other developed countries it is easily found and used alongside of more modern medicine for ailments of all types. Homeopathy is founded on the principles of mind-body connection and energetic of healing.
Let me briefly explain: The most common form you might see is the blue tubes with tiny white pellets inside. These are made from many different substances and are quite different from the herbal medicines made from the same substances. In homeopathy, the energetic signature of the material is transferred to water which is transferred to the patient to treat the condition and neutralize the disease. Thirsty for more? Check out this link:

For example, Arnica Montana is a plant which grows in the mountains. It is harvested and made into a tincture. This succussed (shaken) and diluted many times to produce a homeopathic medicine, so that the water molecules used in the dilution arrange themselves to reflect the energy of the plant. Finally, there is no measurable plant material left.
Ok, you don’t have to understand how an airplane flies, to use one, and you don’t have to understand how a medicine works to use it, right? The people who make airplanes and medicines can explain all the details to you if you need that information, but you don’t. Just get a tube of Arnica 30C potency at your health food store. Next time you are overactive and know your muscles will be sore the next day, try taking Arnica as soon as you have this thought. You will become a believer! Or if you fall and experience some bruising, take the Arnica and you will be amazed! My left brain gets amazed over this on a regular basis!
How does this relate to veterinary medicine? Homeopathy offers great potential from companion animals to organic livestock production! Here are the reasons I love homeopathics:
1) Very Safe
2) Very fast to cure in many cases
3) Easy to administer, especially to difficult patients
4) Can be used with other meds
5) Inexpensive
6) Safe and effective for pocket pets, birds, wildlife, horses, goats, cattle
7) Dose is same no matter what patient weighs
8) Used for emotional conditions before disease manifests physically
9) Easy to obtain and to transport in first aid kit or in your pocket
10) No drug residues in food animals
Like Dr. Murphy said, “A thirst for knowledge is what motivates a healer.” I concur with that and would add, “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know in this world, and that is the reason for living and learning.”

March 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Prescriptions For Your Pets

Pet prescriptions are in the cross-hairs at Wal Mart and elsewhere. Ever see me cringe when a client asks to get their prescription at 1-800 Pet Meds? Why? Honestly, stocking every medication I need takes time and effort, and I make little to no money on these items. Why do I want you to buy from me?
Reason #1 Because I appreciate your loyalty and because I need that couple of bucks more than Pet Meds. Wouldn’t you prefer to support your veterinarian, who cares about your pet, than to support big box stores? I would bet you did not know Pet Meds has been taken to court numerous times for illegally filling prescriptions. They continue to operate because their advertising is so effective that they can pay the fines and go on. Here’s another reason to buy from me: Because I am on call 24-7 to answer questions about your pet and your prescription. If your pet has an adverse reaction to a medication, you know I will follow up with the manufacturer, and report the reaction, not to mention your pet will get concerned follow up care from me. Try calling Wal Mart in the middle of the night for a reaction to a medication you purchased from them! My clients expect educated up to date advice from me. If they insist on shopping around for the cheapest medications, then I will be forced to charge them for every phone consult. No offense, but how many of us like watching the clock when we get a phone consult with our lawyer? There is always a ripple effect when change occurs.
Reason #2 I do really care for each and every patient, and I am very concerned about quality control with medications. I know the reputable distributors and companies who manufacture medications. I have years of experience and client feedback as to which ones are most effective, not which ones cost the least. Did you know that the counterfeit legal drug trade is bigger than the illegal drug trade in this country? Many medications have been found to be ineffective counterfeits, from flea products to cancer therapy drugs. These are sold to distributors at a discount and then on to you, the consumer.
Reason#3 Honestly, this is the biggest reason I prefer that you buy medications from me: The largest obstacle to successful outcome in veterinary medicine is client compliance. That means actually getting the medication into the animal as directed. Admittedly, not always easy! I have tricks and tools to help you. I know, for a fact, that if you have to drive to a pharmacy to collect your medication, there will be a delay in getting started. I can be sure that a certain percentage of clients will never fill their prescriptions. I can also be sure I will start giving more injections to patients in the office to get started on treatment, consequently, costing you way more than you’d have saved on that prescription. Many times I have sent clients to the health food store to get a supplement and about half of the time they never get there. I have learned, through the years, that when client goes to the vet to get some help, they need to have the medication in their hand when they walk out the door. It is truly not in the best interest of the patient to lengthen their trip from home, to leave them in a vehicle while the owner drives somewhere else to collect their medication, or to delay starting treatment. Not to mention the confusion that can result from having the medication picked up at a human pharmacy.
So, the truth is that veterinarians are already required by law to write a prescription if a client requests it. If the medication is something that is not available to veterinarians and is needed by the pet for treatment then we can call in to a pharmacy or write out a prescription. Certain antibiotics and chemo drugs would fall into this category. One of my favorite sayings is “ be careful what you wish for”, and this applies to clients who wish transfer prescriptions from their vet to their Wal Mart or pet meds internet pharmacy.
Products are available all over the place. If it is service and professional advice you need, please consult your veterinarian, not those whose primary interest is to sell you a product! Every day I am seeing more animals harmed by their owners’ attempts to get free internet advice. Truly, my clients are more educated and informed than ever before, thanks to the internet. At some sweet spot, the information stops and the “art of medicine” begins. There is no substitute for years of hands on experience! You know that in your own life experience! You and your animals deserve good solid service and current professional advice. You want one-stop shopping? That’s what you get at your veterinarian! My desire is for veterinary medicine to continue to be the personal, caring, and honest profession I have known it to be for my 30 years in the business. I would like to hear your input on the controversial internet pharmacy issues!

February 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

February is Spay/ Neuter month

Let me tell you a true story: Once a client called and asked for an appointment to have her dog “hoed”. The patient receptionist said, “Do you mean spayed?” The client replied, “That’s right; I knew it was one of those garden tools!”

Here’s another true story: I worked for years with a wonderful humane society in New York state. Along with my duties of providing health-care for shelter animals, I was asked to assist the employees who took a class on euthanasia with their grim duty. Once a week, animals had to be selected for euthanasia to make room for those strays coming in from county dog control. Envision a small room with a table, a vet, a technician and a pile of previously healthy but now dead dogs (or cats if you prefer). Then, if that’s not bad enough, picture placing them into the incinerator for group cremation. That’s the memory I have to share with those who delay spaying and neutering. Interesting fact: it takes about twice as much euthanasia solution to kill a healthy animal as an old one who is ready to go.
It’s the horrific truth about a shelter that was truly a wonderful humane society. It raised funds to build its own spay/neuter clinic on the premises so that all adopted animals would be “fixed” before leaving. The shelter’s goal was not to recycle animals or to receive litters from well-meaning adopters back for adoption. Puppy classes were offered there in the Humane Education Center because good dogs are less likely to end up back at the shelter. Stray dogs were reunited with their owners or rehabilitated into wonderful appreciative companions. This shelter is now a “no-kill” shelter, which means space for incoming animals is only available when one is adopted. This is much more palatable, yet I have seen animal rescuers going from shelter to shelter finding no room for adoptable animals. Try finding room at a shelter for a springtime litter of kittens! Thank heavens for foster homes and pet stores who adopt shelter animals.
I acknowledge the information about hormones and healthy development, I acknowledge reputable breeders, and I acknowledge the health benefits and risks of not neutering. I still support spaying and neutering for every pet owner. The exponential effect of one accidental litter is undeniable if you have taken 5th grade math. ”We will get her fixed after her first litter” does not cut it with me. Will you require that all her offspring will be neutered, and how can you assure that this will happen?
Can you tell I have strong feelings on this subject? I have heard all the excuses in the book, but what happens behind closed doors is all our problem if we truly love animals. Until the shelters start to run out of animals to adopt, I will support spaying and neutering. There are too many good dogs and cats waiting for homes, to support purchase from puppy mills and backyard breeders. I have seen plenty of purebred dogs which have been discarded by their owners, including my own (neutered) German Shepherd. There are rescue organizations for every breed you want, and especially the Pitt Bull breed which has experienced such horribly irresponsible breeding practices.
I hope I have not offended reputable breeders, for this description assumes that you are not contributing to this problem, but are seeking to preserve and improve your breed. In fact, I am preaching to the choir, because you would not be reading this if you did not really care about animals! Just remember and support Spay/ Neuter month and World Spay day, the 4th Tuesday in February. Maybe offer to pay for someone to get their pet spayed this month or lend a helping hand to an animal shelter. Don’t support stores that sell puppies and kittens from questionable sources at exorbitant prices. This just encourages impulse buying and plants the idea that breeding is a profitable business. Become a foster home. Put your spare change in the shelter donation jar. Maybe do a program on responsible pet ownership for children you know. Send me more suggestions and ideas to prevent the needless death of millions of animals a year.
It’s like the starfish story, you can make a difference to “this one”.

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Equine Vaccines

Last week I wrote about essential vaccines for small animals. What about horses?
There are loads of vaccines to choose from. Here are the ones I consider important for the “pasture ornament” and occasional trail horse: Rabies, Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis, Tetanus, and West Nile Virus.
Rabies is important. As you and I both know, a horse is eager to investigate wandering creatures. A horse recently died of rabies in VA. Mosquito borne diseases like encephalitis and West Nile virus are a danger where there are lots of mosquitos. Try sleeping outdoors one hot summer night and see what your population is like. This is what your horse is exposed to every night! These are fatal diseases so vaccination is recommended. Tetanus is a danger to horses and it can be fatal. The tetanus vaccine is a toxoid which contains no live agents and is therefore safer than live vaccines. It is best to booster in the spring for mosquito borne diseases. I would recommend splitting up the vaccines and doing EWT and WNV in the spring and Rabies in the fall.
For show horses and those that travel, vaccination depends on what the horse may be exposed to and weighing the risk of vaccination vs. the risk of infection from a disease. Vaccines available are Flu (Influenza), Potomac Horse Fever, Rhino pneumonitis (herpes virus), and Strep Equi (Strangles). Some of these diseases are highly contagious. Keep in mind that diseases can spread from the traveling horse to other horses in the barn which do not travel. All of these can spread from contaminated premises and do not require direct contact. Equine Herpes virus has been in the news lately, and unfortunately the dangerous neurologic form is not prevented with vaccines. The bottom line is, if you are overnighting where other horses have been; consider expanding your vaccination program.
Many horse owners and vets like to use multiple vaccines all rolled into one shot. This is for convenience and economics only. For the horse’s benefit, I prefer to give fewer vaccines at one visit rather asking the immune system to do so much at once. I really do not like to see anaphylactic reactions, sore necks, and fevers post vaccination. If you have ever seen a horse die from an anaphylactic reaction, you will believe me when I say vaccines should be taken seriously.
Again ask these 4 questions:
1) Is my animal healthy enough to receive and mount a good immune response to a vaccination?
2) Is the vaccine safe and efficacious?
3) Is this a common disease my animal may be exposed to?
4) Is the disease treatable should I choose not to vaccinate?
Talk with your vet about your individual circumstances and needs. And consider splitting the vaccines into two rounds if your horse requires multiple vaccines. Remember that an EWTFLU contains antigens for four diseases, not just one! And after vaccinating, observe your horse for any adverse reactions for at least 30 minutes. Contact your vet for emergency help if you notice heavy breathing, bumps appearing on the skin, or signs of distress. Keep epinephrine in your barn if you administer your own vaccines and know how to use it. Happy Trails!

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Essential Vaccines

I have coined the term “essential vaccines” to make reference to the fact that not all vaccines are essential. More is not better in all cases! For a while it seemed there was a new vaccine for something every month! Many of these products were later found to be inefficacious, and some were harmful. When I started practice, the wiser practice owner never wanted to jump right on a new product, but to take a wait and see approach. I, the new associate, wanted to use every new thing I could get my hands on. Soon, I came to appreciate the wisdom of waiting.
Vaccinosis is a term referring to adverse events following vaccination which are apart from anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic reactions appear within minutes to hours post vaccination. These can be acute emergencies and are the “reactions” recognized by the general medical community. Vaccinosis reactions can encompass a wide range of immune mediated disorders days to months to years post vaccination. One of these reactions recognized by the American Association of Feline Practitioners is vaccine associated sarcomas. Many holistic veterinarians recognize other problems associated with over vaccination such as autoimmune disease, allergies, and behavior problems. The holistic community tries to vaccinate on a case by case basis, rather than a blanket recommendation. Admittedly, there is well documented protection against serious animal diseases by vaccination but some are safer that others.
Now, what about your pets? My professional judgment is that rabies is the only essential vaccine for many animals. Initial puppy and kitten vaccines are good insurance against some very bad “childhood” diseases. Vaccinated parents pass on protective immunity to the offspring. Feral and stray animals are at greater risk for viral diseases as are some breeds. After your 1 year boosters, it has been shown that most animals maintain a good protective titer to viruses for many years. To be safe, I recommend titer testing or boosters every 3 years. Holistic vets have been preaching this for at least a decade. Now conventional vets are agreeing, thanks to all our titer testing and well documented research by Dr. Ron Schultz, Dr. Jean Dodds, and others.

 Here are the questions you should ask before vaccinating:

1. Is my animal healthy enough to receive and mount a good immune response to a vaccination?
2. Is the vaccine safe and efficacious?
3. Is this a common disease my animal may be exposed to?
4. Is the disease treatable should I choose not to vaccinate?

By far, question one is the most important. If your animal has an immune system disorder you should not vaccinate it. Some of these include degenerative myelopathy, allergies, thyroid disease, and cancer. If your animal is a female in heat the vaccines should wait until she is out of heat. If your animal is sick, it is not wise to ask the immune system to do more by responding to a vaccine, often containing multiple antigens. And let me just ask, if you were going into the hospital for surgery, would you like to get a flu shot and a hepatitis shot while you’re there?
If your boarding facility requires vaccines, find out if they will accept titers or a letter from your veterinarian explaining why you need an exemption. If your pet is not vaccinated, you are accepting the risk of exposure to disease and you are stating that you are confident that your animal is protected or that the risk of an adverse reaction to vaccines is greater than the risk of catching Parvovirus or Distemper at a boarding facility. Your less vaccinated healthy pet is not a risk to others in the facility!
In my town, anyone can buy dog and horse vaccines at the feed store. What about these? Honestly, if it is a good brand name and the vaccine has been handled properly, many are the same as the ones I use. The problem with do-it-yourself vaccination is that you can not receive advice from the store owner about the procedure. Which brand is safe? Which one to pick? Do you have epinephrine on hand should your animal experience anaphylaxis? Have the vaccines been kept at the right temperature during shipping? An example I recall is at an animal shelter where I worked, the volunteers unpacked the rabies vaccines which had gotten warm during shipment and put them in the fridge for use. Luckily one employee noticed and we sent the vaccines back! Most vets are extremely concerned with adverse events associated with vaccination and will recheck your animal at no charge. However, If you have administered them yourself, you will most certainly receive an emergency fee and a lecture!
Vaccines are nothing to take lightly. They can save a life or take a life. I hope that medical decisions are made carefully for your pets, yourself, and your children. Stay tuned next week for Equine Vaccination Decisions!

January 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment